Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Murakami magic


What strikes me about Haruki Murakami is how such a worldwide audience has embraced his novels. People have taken to his writing not for its Japanese-ness, but for its stories and universal themes.

The 60-year-old Murakami is not your typical Japanese author. The jazz lover and triathlete has lived in the United States, Greece and Italy, and his works have been translated into over 40 languages. He is a regular favourite in Nobel literature prize predictions and has won various international awards, most recently from the Spanish government.

I recently had the chance to chat with Murakami for about an hour and a half in his office in Tokyo about his latest novel, “1Q84″ – the two-volume, 1,055-page novel with a title suggestive of George Orwell’s “1984″, as the Japanese word for 9 is pronounced the same as the English letter “Q”. We also spoke about the impact of religious cults and the 9/11 attacks and on his works, as well as about dreams and the Japanese language.


Here are some of the themes I found especially interesting. (You can read the entire Q+A here)
1) The realness of unreal things
“I think people are gradually starting to understand and accept the realness of unreal things. To me, Sept. 11 does not feel like an incident that took place in the real world. There must be a world somewhere that this didn’t happen. I think this mood is shared by everyone, and that would help set the grounds for 1Q84 to be accepted.”